A state law that went into effect in January requires contractors to follow the very latest efficiency guidelines when building new homes or businesses. But some builders have raised concerns that those rules are changing faster than they can keep up.
The Illinois Energy Conservation Code (IECC) got the attention of the Springfield City Council Tuesday night. Aldermen spent most of the meeting debating whether they should devote more time, money and manpower to weatherproofing and insulation tests required as part of the new standards.
LISTEN TO DEBATE [.mp3 – 40:58]
The city has to inspect construction work and several alderman expressed frustration that the state left it up to the city to make sure contractors are compliant. Alderman Kris Theilen explained his vote to remove the standards from the city’s building code this way:
THEILEN: “The point is the state passed a law expecting someone else to enforce it for them and we’re telling them to go stuff it.”
Dean Graven of the Springfield Area Homebuilders’ Association agrees with Theilen that it is unfair for the state to force struggling municipalities to stretch taxpayer dollars even further. Graven is asking city leaders to join him in lobbying the General Assembly for a change in the law:
GRAVEN: “More mandates with no funding has to stop. We’re not against energy [efficiency] – we’re not. We built to those codes, we want to build efficient homes and we want to make sure people can afford them. And right now this new law is pushing that farther away from the average American.”
Aldermen voted 6 to 4 last night to strike all references to Energy Conservation Codes from the city’s building code.
That means the city is no longer liable for contractors who fail in building to code. Builders will be asked to police themselves.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he will draft a resolution and have it signed by all members of the City Council, urging the legislature to change the current law.
Ald. Sam Cahnman says he will work for passage of a trailer ordinance, which would require builders to sign a written acknowledgement that they are aware of the state law requiring them to follow the latest Energy Conservation Code.
Illinois’ energy efficiency guidelines are among the strictest in the Midwest. Homes built now are required to be 15 percent more efficient than those constructed just 4 years ago.